Thursday, 14 June 2012

YouTube, iTunes & lateral thinking

This post has nothing to do with sport. Or food. But it does say a lot about how we gather information in the digital age. 

The best thing about the endless amount of information we have at our fingertips is how well this allows us to explore - sometimes vertically (i.e. really digging deep into the nitty gritty of a single subject), but usually laterally (which I discus here); allowing what we study to take us into other directions - entering into subjects that are not at first glance related to our initial interest.

Edward Debono, who coined the term "lateral thinking" in 1967 states that "the brain as a self-organising information system forms asymmetric patterns. In such systems there is a mathematical need for moving across patterns. The tools and processes of lateral thinking are designed to achieve such 'lateral' movement. The tools are based on an understanding of self-organising information systems". 

So, essentially, we are hard-wired to "surf" - to move laterally from one topic to the next...

A great example of this is YouTube...I like to occasionally spend an hour or two letting YouTube take me on a grand tour. 

I'll give you an example. 

Fellow music lover, and the GB men's relay coach, Tony Lester, introduced me to a killer track from Sly and the Family Stone, called 'If You Want Me to Stay". I have no idea how I have ever missed this bass-driven track before, because it's truly a classic; especially memorable by its opening baseline. The bassist? Larry Graham; who I didn't even know played with Sly until I did some digging. I knew of Larry Graham from his late 70s funk group, Graham Central Station, who made a ton of classic funk (for all you young folk, he also happens to be the uncle of Canadian rapper Drake). 

Well, Graham was also a mentor of Prince, and in fact Prince will still occasionally turn up at the odd Graham Central Station show. Earlier in the day, therapist and strength coach, Hamish Hurley had posted a YouTube video on Facebook of Prince performing at the 2004 Hall of Fame induction ceremony of the late George Harrison (Prince was a fellow inductee that year); the track was "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". First recorded in 1968 for the The White Album, this song originally featured Eric Clapton on lead guitar (one of the few times when the Beatles used an 'outside player'). 

Well, as I'm sure you well know, Prince is a pretty decent guitar player, and this track - in my opinion, one of the Beatles' best - and definitely the best Harrison-penned one - has a killer guitar solo. Playing alongside Tom Petty, Dhani Harrison (George's son), Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne, and Steve Ferrone, Prince played one of the all-time great solos (at least according to others - I am by no means a guitar expert; though Tony Lester is). 

Carlos Santana - highly regarded as one of the best ever guitar players (in 2003, Rolling Stone magazine listed Santana at number 15 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time - - on his recent album of guitar classics (Guitar Heaven - the Greatest Guitar Classics of All-time), includes an amazing version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", featuring Yo-Yo-Ma and India Arie, which I listened to on YouTube, and then bought on iTunes, thus ending this short little journey. 

I've often taken a similar path with research. And just like I found Carlos Santana, Yo-Yo-Ma, and India Arie playing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by listening to Sly and the Family Stone, I may just as easily begin reading Jason Ross' blog, and eventually find myself learning what the most successful people do before breakfast. 

So in the words of Satchmo, I’ll do you ‘Just like the ‘Farmer did the ‘Potato — I’ll ‘Plant you ‘Now and ‘Dig you ‘later (just read while finishing writing this)...


  1. Wow, as a Personal Trainer working at a commercial gym, this mimics exactly my way of thinking. After a long stint deep into the rabbit hole of Fasting & Low CHO availability I am looking to move laterally into what should be more familiar territory of exercise science.

    Any recommendations on a decent book containing periodisation models?